Revolution in Mind
The Creation of Psychoanalysis
George Makari
(Harper Perennial)
This is the story of Sigmund Freud and his merry band of followers: Carl Jung, Otto Rank, Melanie Klein, Wilhelm Reich, Sándor Radó, Paul Federn, Ernest Jones, Sándor Ferenczi, Wilhelm Fliess, Alfred Adler, Eugen Bleuler, Anna Freud, Hans Freud, Wilhelm Freud, Milton Freud, and Freddy ("Freak-Out") Freud. (I just made up these last four; blame it on my schizophrenic personality).

If you are interested in all or any of these characters ... or in psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic sociology, psychoses, psychosexuality, psychotherapy, psychophysics --- you'll find it here. All of it.

And this huge litany may affect you as it did me, causing neurosis, overtones of Oedipal fixation, melancholia, synesthesia, transference on top of countertransference, mania, depression, and a touch of hysteria.

These early psychologists and psychotherapists, "alienists," and psychoanalysts were a hundred times worse than the early socialists: there were cliques, breaks, factions, wars, denouncings, back-stabbings, squabbles, revolts, reunions, and irreversible breaks.

And if you examine the most famous schism of them all --- the one between Jung and Freud --- you may be as mystified as to why it happened at all. As far as I can tell, to use an old psychotherapeutic expression, it came out of left field.

Which is not to say that Makari doesn't try to figure out what got these two into such a snit. "Jung had not written to Freud as promptly as usual..." (they usually corresponded every couple of weeks). That put Freud in a dither. Jung then offered the opinion "that Freud's testiness came from a desire to intellectually control him."

Or maybe it had to do with faith and background. The Freudians in Vienna were mostly Jewish, what we would now call "liberals;" those in Zurich were Protestants and "conservatives. Perhaps it was transgenerational: "Was Freud like an old tyrant, and Jung a childish rebel?"

    Could the Freudian community develop laws that might prevent the fragmentation caused by fratricide, womblike retreats, and incestuous inbreeding?

Freud was wedded to the idea of "sexuality and repression for the neurosis," while Jung said that "adaptation was generally a more pressing imperative."

    Human fantasy bore an uncanny resemblance to the symbols and myths of religion, and it was certain mythic themes like sacrifice that caused individuals to develop what the "Vienna school" saw as a castration complex.

Whatever caused it, it was another example of dangerous dissent in the ranks, Battle #446 in the continuing psychoanalytical wars over a methodology which could explain the astonishing muddle known as the human mind.

§     §     §

Revolution in Mind is a long (over six hundred pages, fairly small type) examination of what went into creating Freud's theories, how he and his followers modified these theories, how countless splinter-groups evolved, where they went, and what effect the world and politics had on this arcane world of psychoanalysis.

All this got to be, for me, a general pother. What came to be a more interesting part of the book were not the recitals of the names of the myriad students who accepted, coöpted, modified, or rejected the basic tenets of Freudianism, but, rather, some of the exotic details that emerged. One I especially liked was the revelation of how the disciples used analysis itself to fight dissent.

When a member of the cabal had a rebellious thought, obviously there was some psychosexual disturbance up there in the belfry that made him go against the father. Could it be a regressive Oedipal fixation? Time for self-analysis!

For instance, when Sándor Ferenczi wrote a denunciation addressed to Jung that did not follow Freud's instructions to the letter, Freud "pummeled him "for his 'false obedience,' a humiliation that plunged Ferenczi into a self-analysis." You've been bad: you are hereby commanded to do three months of penance, studying your ego, id, and superego.

§     §     §

One of the more charming sections has to do with the Wednesday Psychological Society, a collection of Freudniks who met every week at his home to present papers, discuss ideas, and, more and more, to isolate and expel traitors. When Jung came to Vienna in 1907, he attended one of these meetings. "Next to the Zurichers, the Viennese seemed like rabble."

    That evening, Alfred Adler launched into a discussion of organ inferiority. Somehow the debate moved from organ inferiority to the size of Jewish and Christian penises. With the experimental psychiatrist from Zurich sitting by, Otto Rank said the numbers seven and forty-nine represented the small and big penis.

And after it was over, Freud said, "Well, now you have seen the gang." The author refers to it as "this strange hermeneutic."

§     §     §

Freud had some ideas that were definitely potty. He thought that cocaine could somehow cure the morphine habit. He bought into Wilhelm Fleiss' weird concept of "nasal reflex neurosis:" that problems with the nose could become systemic and affect the sexual organs.

He believed in self-analysis, as if you and I were capable of solving our own deepest angsts by deep self-contemplation. And he got more than a little hooked on the whole Oedipus complex business, which seemed to me then and seems to me now to be a bit overcooked (although as psychotherapist Carl Whittaker once declared, our mothers were indeed there "firstest with the mostest.")

But his emphasis on the power of the unconscious and mental conflict and "counter-will" were brilliant, and the place of dreams in our lives is a profound truth that is still being sorted out. One of the best parts of Makari's book details the way that Freud stumbled across his first inkling of the power of dreams in our conscious (and subsconscious) lives.

The night his father was buried, he dreamed he was in a strange place with a sign that read:


A dream got him to start working on dreams, to "close the eyes." He became "less concerned with the psychology of perception and turned to the hallucinatory world of sleep."

    Presuming a willful impulse lay buried in every dream, Freud proceeded to record his dreams after his father's death. To pry open a window on himself, he developed techniques, like writing out these dreams, then rewriting them and analyzing the differences between drafts.

"These changes, Freud reasoned, would be the result of his own defenses and would point to areas of conflict. It was an ingenious method, a way for a man to think against himself." The result was The Interpretation of Dreams, his best book by far, one that a hundred years later is the most provocative and revealing of them all (Norman Mailer said it was the best nineteenth century novel). In Makari's felicitous phrase, "the mind became a city of dreams."

    Dreaming was no longer an odd phenomenon. Rather, it structured and elucidated the problems of consciousness and perception. Subjective vision, illusion, fantasy, dreams, and the distorting force of the Will: for nearly a century German philosophers and scientists had used them to glimpse the psyche's role in structuring our knowledge of the world. In Freud's model, these forces were primary, so primary that they left little rôle for much else.

--- L. W. Milam
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